Most football and basketball betting is done using traditional point spreads. For example, on any given NFL Sunday you can wager that a team beats another team by a certain amount of points. On the flip side you can also wager that a team stays within a certain amount of points of another team. If you choose to take the team favored by a set amount of points you are “laying points”. If you choose their opponent to stay within the number you are “taking points.”
Let’s look at a typical NFL game. The Detroit Lions are playing at home against the Minnesota Vikings one Sunday. The typical wagering line might look like this:
- Lions -6.5 -110
- Vikings +6.5 -110
In the above scenario if you wanted to bet on the lions, you would have to lay 6.5 points. That means that you would win your wager if the Lions won by seven points or more. If you liked the Vikings to keep it close you would be taking the points and any scenario where the Vikings win or lose by less than 6.5 points would make your bet a winner. Another simple way to envision it is by adding or subtracting the final score. Let’s assume the game is played and the final score is Detroit 31 and Minnesota 24.
- Subtract the points from Detroit if you laid them: (Detroit -6.5)
- Effective Final Score:Lions 24.5 Vikings 24
- Outcome: Winner
- Add the points for Detroit if you took them: (Minnesota +6.5)
- Effective Final Score: Lions 31 Vikings 30.5
- Outcome: Loser
Baseball, hockey, and tennis have different options of wagering called money lines. In reality, football and basketball offer money lines as well, but for purposes of understanding laying the points it’s not necessary to discuss this. Read the section on money lines for understanding of money line wagering. Laying points or taking points is the most common form of wagering on the outcome of an event. Look for the best number to make sure you get value for your wager.